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Television programming in letterbox format.


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#1 of 22 BruceVC

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Posted March 27 2003 - 05:26 AM

I haved owned a Toshiba 42H82 for a number of months now and am comfortable (meaning without fear of black bar burn-in due to my settings) with watching DVDs in 2:35:1 and letterboxed TV shows such as The West Wing, Sopranos, Six Feet Under, Angel.

I do appreciate it, however, when I watch widescreen HD shows like CSI, and 24 (24 being high resolution digital, not true HD) and the picture takes up the whole 16:9 screen.

I have noticed that commercials (and not just movie previews) are getting into the letterbox act as well. Is this the direction that all things broadcast will go in the future? I said above I was comfortable when it happens here and there but I don't want it to be constant as I know you should vary the aspects you watch to prevent burn-in, even on a properly set television.

Surely the networks must know that people don't appreciate the black bars - especially those with 4:3 TVs. How can we encourage them to broadcast in HD yet maintain the 1:78 or 1:85 aspects that fill the screens (like CSI, etc)? Movies are one thing, but do TV shows really need to follow suit? Any thoughts on this?

#2 of 22 Jeff Kleist

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Posted March 27 2003 - 05:44 AM

I don't understand what you're talking about. All the TV shows you mentioned (The West Wing, Sopranos, Six Feet Under, Angel) will fill your screen if you use a zoom mode
and all of which are approx 1.78:1

And I very much appriciate them being wide and I have a 4:3 TV. Angel has the best cinematography on television today and I love being able to see it in all its widescreen splendor

#3 of 22 BruceVC

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Posted March 27 2003 - 06:54 AM

Yes, I could zoom them via TheatreWide 2 on the Tosh (TW 1 still allows for the black bars) but doesn't that go against the edict of watching something as it was meant to be watched be it TV or movies? It would distort how I was meant to see something.

I just don't want it to come to a point where every show on TV is in a letterbox format. Fox does a widescreen without it being letterbox and that is what I would like to be the rule rather than the exception.

#4 of 22 Jack Briggs

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Posted March 27 2003 - 06:58 AM

Again, Bruce, you're not coming through clearly. By the time the FCC pulls the plug on the analog bandwidth all of television must convert to the 1.78:1 ATSC standards. And films which are wider than this will be letterboxed within the 1.78:1 format.

Watch the programming, not the letterboxing bars.

#5 of 22 Ken_McAlinden

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Posted March 27 2003 - 07:04 AM

There is nothing wrong aesthetically, morally, or otherwise with zooming a 16:9 shaped image to fill a 16:9 shaped frame. Posted Image

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Ken McAlinden
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#6 of 22 Jeff Gatie

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Posted March 27 2003 - 07:46 AM

Theater-Wide 2 does not distort the picture, it zooms and crops a letterbox 16:9 to a screen filling 16:9, with no stretching, cropping or distortion of the *PICTURE* area (of course it crops the black bars). This is the same setting used for non-anamorphic DVD's and no distortion is present when displaying them, right? Remember, OAR does not mean you *have* to watch black bars, just that the original aspect ratio of the film/tv show is preserved. Theater-Wide 2 does this exactly. Jack is right, the best advice for any AOR newbie is "stop worrying about bars and start watching the picture".Posted Image

P.S. How does FOX do a "widescreen picture without it being letterbox". Like the other's, I do not understand this statement . . .

#7 of 22 Jeff Kleist

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Posted March 27 2003 - 07:59 AM

Anamorphic is what he means

#8 of 22 BruceVC

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Posted March 27 2003 - 08:15 AM

I wish I had my Tosh manual with me here at work. I'm sorry I'm not coming across clearly. Let's see if I can start from the beginning.

I watch my normal TV programming in a TheatreWide 1 aspect on the Tosh. The Tosh has Natural, TW1, TW2, TW3 and Full aspects I can choose from. As opposed to natural (4:3),
TW1 gets rid of the bars on either side of the screen and expands the picture equally. However, when I watch West Wing, Angel, Six Feet Under (letterbox), I still get black bars top & bottom in TW1. I can get rid of them if I go to TW2 but TW2 does not pull (zoom?) on all sides equally. I believe it pulls more top to bottom as opposed to equally, so I don't use it because it does noticeably distort the picture.

Fox states before each episode that 24 is broadcast in Widescreen High Resolution Digital TV and while watching it in TW1, I do not get the letterboxing. It takes up the whole 16:9 screen. How they do it, I do not know, but it looks really good without me having to go to another aspect. I was just saying I would like to see West Wing etc do that. Maybe I should run my own test and rent the 24 DVDs and see how they appear on my set. Maybe I need to alter something in my digital cable box (Sci/Atl 3250) to indicate I have a 16:9 TV.

Interesting side note. on Monday nights, HBO 2 when rebroadcasting Sopranos or Six Feet don't do it in a letterbox format. They must resort to 4:3.

Appreciate the contributions to this thread.

#9 of 22 Jeff Kleist

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Posted March 27 2003 - 08:25 AM

You're watching 24 on the digital channel in anamorphic widescreen. If you watched the others on digital/HD (except Angel) you would get the same.

#10 of 22 Patrick Sun

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Posted March 27 2003 - 09:33 AM

Angel isn't broadcast in true HDTV 16x9 format. It's broadcast as a 4:3 show that is letterboxed with even more top/bottom bars to make it look like widescreen, but it's not native HDTV 16x9. The physical widescreen image for Angel will appear smaller in a 16x9 screen form factor.

Enterprise is the same way.

For these 2 shows, you should see borders on all 4 sides of the picture if your 16x9 HDTV set is set to normal viewing (no stretch/zoom modes engaged). This is normal, nothing is wrong with your set, it's how the network is providing the "letterbox/widescreen" aspect ratio without having to produce a HDTV master for the show to be broadcasted.

I don't watch Six Feet Under in HDTV on HBO-HD, nor do I watch the West Wing, so I can't say if HBO/NBC broadcasts those shows in true HDTV 16x9.

Off the top of my head: shows that are true HDTV 16x9 (meaning they fill the entire 1.78:1 16x9 screen for your HDTV set) that I watch:

CSI
CSI: Miami
Without A Trace
ER
Alias
Dragnet
Ed
American Dreams (just remembered this one)
The Practice
Smallville
Everwood
24 (is in 480p, but will fill up the 16x9 screen)
Fastlane (ditto)
John Doe (ditto)
Boston Public (ditto, I think)

also, there are the ABC comedies on Tuesday night, Crossing Jordan (NBC), CBS comedies on Monday night, that are true 16x9 HDTV programs.
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#11 of 22 BruceVC

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Posted March 27 2003 - 10:30 AM

Awesome. I have a better sense of things now.

Interestingly enough, I think HD was being presented by Samsung for Alias and I wasn't impressed but in the last episode when it was presented by Zenith, it "seemed" much improved. That could be a psychological effect though (my car drives better after I wash it).

If it is announced a show is broadcast in HD, how do the local affiliates factor into what I am seeing? Do they have to be doing something as well in order for me to see it in true HD? I ask because as noted above, I am not as impressed with Alias (ABC) as I am with CSI or CSI: Miami (CBS).

#12 of 22 Patrick Sun

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Posted March 28 2003 - 12:56 AM

ABC broadcasts all of their HDTV content in 720p, and there might be a minute loss in quality if your HD receiver/STB has to transform/convert 720p to 1080i to be displayed on your HDTV set. Sometime what you'll see is some graininess on the ABC HD programing, I see this on Alias during the night time shots. Dragnet tends to a look a little better. But it could just be the way the show (Alias) is shot.

Local stations have to "flip the switch" to push the HD programming out to us. Sometimes if the station forgets to "flip the switch", you'll see the 4:3 version of the show. It happens every now and again (like in the first minute of the show until someone at the station realizes that the HD version isn't being broadcasted on the ATSC side. Some stations probably have an automated process for "flipping the switch" on their end. Some members here have been known to call the station to tell them they need to flip the switch. Posted Image
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#13 of 22 Michael Reuben

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Posted March 28 2003 - 02:32 AM

Quote:
I don't watch Six Feet Under in HDTV on HBO-HD, nor do I watch the West Wing, so I can't say if HBO/NBC broadcasts those shows in true HDTV 16x9

The current season of Six Feet Under is being broadcast in true HD. The first two seasons were not.

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#14 of 22 Scott Merryfield

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Posted March 28 2003 - 04:47 AM

Quote:
However, when I watch West Wing, Angel, Six Feet Under (letterbox), I still get black bars top & bottom in TW1. I can get rid of them if I go to TW2 but TW2 does not pull (zoom?) on all sides equally. I believe it pulls more top to bottom as opposed to equally, so I don't use it because it does noticeably distort the picture.

Not true. TheaterWide 1 stretches/distorts the picture. It will stretch the picture more on the edges than in the middle. It is designed for watching 1.33:1 material without the side bars.

TheaterWide 2, on the other hand, provides an equal amount of horizontal and vertical stretching. It will enlarge 1.78:1 or wider material without distorting or cropping the picture.

FULL mode is used for anamorphic DVD's or HDTV broadcasts (in fact, my Toshiba 56H80 locks into FULL mode with all 1080i signals).

#15 of 22 Marc_Sulinski

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Posted March 28 2003 - 06:18 AM

Quote:
(in fact, my Toshiba 56H80 locks into FULL mode with all 1080i signals)

So does mine, which sucks when I am watching The West Wing, because I get bars on all four sides. I can't understand why NBC can't present their non-HD widescreen shows anamorphically.

#16 of 22 Lew Crippen

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Posted March 28 2003 - 07:26 AM

I just watch on the analog channel and expand the picture. True it is not as good as HD, but then it’s not HD to being with.
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#17 of 22 Ken Chan

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Posted March 28 2003 - 10:42 AM

Quote:
I can't understand why NBC can't present their non-HD widescreen shows anamorphically.
Because everyone would be tall and skinny for 98% of the audience? (Or whatever percentage doesn't have a TV that can do the squeeze?)

//Ken

#18 of 22 BruceVC

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Posted March 29 2003 - 03:06 AM

Jeff K, Jeff G and Scott M - you are right. I double-checked my Tosh manual and indeed TW2 is an equal pull in all directions.

Hi, Marc S. Good to know there is another person in Raleigh on the boards. We can address some local issues as questions come up. I have Time Warner digital cable with a Sci/Atl 3250 STB that acts as my HD receiver for the Tosh 42H82. (I already have some questions regarding the upper channels that broadcast basic network shows such as Ch 256 for WRAL - perhaps in a different thread).

TW says that they expect to have digital recorder STB's in May (yay!).

#19 of 22 Marc_Sulinski

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Posted March 31 2003 - 12:52 AM

Quote:
quote:

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I can't understand why NBC can't present their non-HD widescreen shows anamorphically.
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Because everyone would be tall and skinny for 98% of the audience? (Or whatever percentage doesn't have a TV that can do the squeeze?)

I guess I should have phrased my question better. I was refering to the letterboxed programming on the HD feed. My problem is that my cable box upconverts everything to 1080i, and my televission locks into "FULL" mode on a 1080i feed, so I cannot zoom in. Plus, the non-HD shows would look better.

#20 of 22 BruceVC

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Posted March 31 2003 - 01:32 AM

Marc, from your post above, I assume you have Time Warner digital cable. Check out my question in Audio/Video sources section. What STB do you have? If it is Sci/Atl Explorer 3250, does yours say HD on the front? Mine doesn't. I'm thinking I may need to exchange it as I have never been able to use natural mode in a way that doesn't produce bars on the sides which makes me think I have never gotten a real 1080i HD feed.

Interesting about the Full mode lock-in that you get. Don't like the sound of that. My Tosh manual says only Natural mode can be used for a 720p feed but makes no mention of limited modes for 1080i.


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